As the world embraces the benefits and science surrounding cannabis-based treatments, State Rep. Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) and State Sen. Steve Dickerson, MD (R-Nashville) have filed the Clinical Cannabis Authorization & Research Act to provide a pathway for Tennesseans under medical direction to participate in a statewide clinical cannabis program, focused on medical research and patient safety.

Today, over two thirds of states recognize the clinical value of cannabis and have exerted their 10th Amendment rights to help patients by providing them an alternative to the black market.  However, Tennessee continues to deny citizens the ability to participate in research and development of cannabis-based treatments, as well as prohibiting patients from their right to determine their own healthcare decisions.  The Clinical Cannabis Authorization and Research Act seeks to make changes in these areas.

“The World Health Organization, Federal judges, and a multitude of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals have opined about the medicinal value of the chemicals found in cannabis,” stated Dr. Terry. “Unfortunately, outdated laws and unconstitutional treaties relying on erroneous information brought forth a prohibition on all uses — including medical treatments and research.  It is time for Tennessee to join other states in standing up for patients.”

Tennessee is currently ranked third in the nation in an illicit marijuana market behind California and Kentucky.  Much of this black market is generated by legitimate patients looking for alternative treatments for chronic pain or other debilitating diseases, who put their lives and livelihood at risk in search of relief.  Others who could benefit but do not utilize the black market either continue to suffer, or they look for relief in other states.  This bill provides an alternative by decriminalizing patients through offering a clinical pathway where they can enroll in a medically supervised program that includes research and use of no-smoke, cannabis-based modalities.

“Criminal justice reform is a big issue that Governor Lees administration is looking to address, and it is also frequently discussed nationally,” added Dr. Terry. “It is my belief that most elected officials do not want to criminalize patients, and this bill is a positive step towards reforming an archaic system that harms them. If Tennessee is going to be serious about criminal justice reform, we need to ensure that we are sending criminals to jail, not patients.”

The Clinical Cannabis Authorization and Research Act authorizes medical treatments in the form of oils, pills, breathing treatments, patches, creams, and other known medical modalities.  It explicitly prohibits recreational forms of cannabis including smoking, vaping, candies, or anything that targets children. The bill also prohibits usage of the cannabis flower, except in the processing of chemicals to make medicines. Additionally, the bill bases safety and decriminalization regulations on current science and criminal statutes.  Dosage and possession include monthly limits of non-flower THC containing medical modalities mirroring those of current known medical standards and Tennessee statutes.

These physician legislators have spoken to other medical providers, patients, and legislators from other states that have passed similar legislation, as well as their own colleagues in order to craft this bill.

“Dr. Terry and I have worked very hard to create legislation to allow Tennessees sickest patients to have the option to use clinical cannabis. Our bill provides the framework to allow health professionals to work with patients and give them access to this important medication. We are hopeful our colleagues will join us in standing up for patients here in Tennessee,” concluded Sen. Dickerson.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in both the House and Senate this week.